By scooping up PrepDig’s top two players in the Class of 2019 rankings — Mahtomedi outside hitter Kyndra Hansen and St. Paul Academy middle Blythe Rients — University of Iowa coach Bond Shymansky has continued his border-crossing incursions into Minnesota. There is already a pair of Minnesotans on the Hawkeyes roster, both freshmen this fall, in defensive specialist Halle Johnston from Lakeville South and setter Gabrielle Orr from Eagan. Orr may have been the most versatile player in the state (with apologies to Champlin Park’s Sydney Hilley, the Miss Volleyball winner who is headed to Wisconsin), as she led the Wildcats to another state championship with her setting and hitting abilities.
With those two in the fold, it’s no wonder Shymansky headed back north to grab a few more top-shelf Minnesotans. And overall in the Big 10, the addition of Hansen and Rients will bring Minnesota’s contingent to even greater heights.
Hansen is a 6-foot-2 outside hitter who plays in all six rotations, racking up 330 kills and 239 digs as a sophomore. She has the ability to terminate from either pin with multiple shots, which stresses opposing defenses. Speaking of stress, Hansen claims to paint in her free time in order to help her relax. Rients is a 6-foot-1 outside/middle hitter who was named Independent Metro Athletic Conference player of the year as a sophomore, posting 333 kills.
They’re not the only Class of 2019 stars to verbally commit to Big 10 colleges already. Third-ranked Lauren Clark of Robbinsdale Armstrong has been verbally tied to Penn State for two years, while 13th-ranked Rachel Kilkelly of Shakopee recently verballed to Minnesota.
Other highlights from the initial Class of 2019 rankings:
Crossfire’s Rebels connection
While the Class of 2019 rankings are dominated by players from the Northern Lights 16-1 team (nine of the top 15 players in total), keep an eye on the Crossfire 16-1 squad, which last weekend earned the championship in the 17/18 Division of the Molten Cup, defeating both the powerhouse M1 17-1 and the Wisconsin Ice 18 National team.
Penn State-bound Lauren Clark is our third-ranked player overall and the highest ranked of the Crossfire 16-1 players, but is followed closely by a trio of Champlin Park teammates, setter Izzy Ashburn at No. 11, libero Kaitlyn Weimerskirsch at No. 12, and outside hitter Emma Schmidt at No. 26. All were often overlooked with the focus on Hilley last year, but also showed they are capable of leading a new-look Rebels team, as well as the Crossfire 16-1.
Maple Grove right-side hitter Alexie Pryd also had a big Molten Cup for Crossfire, so expect her to start rising up the rankings from her current No. 79 position. She’s just 5-foot-9, but has great leaping ability and competes in the high, long, and triple jump for the Crimson track team.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s Maizy Jackson has only played organized volleyball for less than four years, but her athleticism has her rising high in the Class of 2019 rankings. She’s currently sitting in the No. 14 position and is the highest ranked player from the Minnesota Select 16-1 team, just ahead of teammates Maddy McIntosh of St. Louis Park at No. 16 and St. Michael-Albertville’s Syra Tanchin at No. 21.
In two years of varsity play for the Red Knights, she’s finished second and first in kills. A 5-foot-10 outside hitter, Jackson jokes that she quit gymnastics to start volleyball because “I got too tall.” Gymnastics’ loss was volleyball’s gain for sure. She’s also a top high-jumper for the track team.